Opinion
School & District Management Letter to the Editor

Lack of Teaching Experience a Liability for School Leaders

February 23, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

It is hard to understand how anyone who has never taught in a public school can be expected to provide credible leadership in these troubled times for education (“Best Minds Sought for Central Office, Startups,” Feb. 2, 2009). The wherewithal that served candidates well when they were in management, law, and public policy does not necessarily transfer to administrative positions in schools. In fact, it can act as a liability.

Long before the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s residency in urban education began, school districts looked to the military for talent to fill top education posts. But the experience has been disappointing. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest, learned that lesson when it forced David L. Brewer, a retired Navy admiral, to resign as superintendent recently.

The reason for this misguided policy is that the culture of schools is based on cooperation—not on competition and orders. That’s why strategies superimposed on teachers almost always backfire. Nevertheless, we persist in the comforting delusion that we can prepare candidates by placing them in residency programs purporting to substitute for teaching experience.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the February 25, 2009 edition of Education Week as Lack of Teaching Experience A Liability for School Leaders

Events

Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Roundtable Webinar: Why We Created a Portrait of a Graduate
Hear from three K-12 leaders for insights into their school’s Portrait of a Graduate and learn how to create your own.
Content provided by Otus

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Letter to the Editor Student Protestors Are Not Fueled by Hatred or Prejudice
A reader pushes back on the coverage of student protestors in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
School & District Management Quiz What Do You Know About the Most Influential People in School Districts? Take Our Quiz
Answer 7 questions about the superintendent profession.
1 min read
Image of icons for gender, pay, demographics.
Canva
School & District Management Opinion I Invited My Students to Be the Principal for a Day. Here’s What I Learned
When I felt myself slipping into a springtime slump, this simple activity reminded me of my “why” as an educator.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
4 min read
052024 OPINION Khoshaba PRINCIPAL end the year with positivity
E+/Getty + Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management The Complicated Fight Over Four-Day School Weeks
Missouri lawmakers want to encourage large districts to maintain five-day weeks—even as four-day weeks grow more popular.
7 min read
Calendar 4 day week
iStock/Getty